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Started by Shadrack22 on Mar 27, 2021 1:48:39 PM
A Workplace Dilemma

See first post, as we used to say.

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Shadrack22 - 27 Mar 2021 13:48:48 (#1 of 70)

I was on an interview panel a few days ago with two colleagues. During the day, we all allocated scores to the candidates based on their answers to the questions. (There was no test).

At the end of the day, person A had the highest tally from our combined scores, followed by B and C in that order (then other candidates further behind).

C is currently part of our team and we all presumed is the preordained preferred candidate. A used to be in our team, but is in another division at the moment.

The successful candidate will report to the chair of the panel. She scored C the highest.

The chair asked us to reconvene the next day to ‘review’ the outcome.

The next day she was upfront about not wanting to offer the job to A, saying that she knows C can do the job better and can immediately step into the role. Said that the scores are just a guide, it’s ultimately her decision as chair, as line manager she knows what is needed, has to consider prior of knowledge of A and C, one of whom she managed previously and one she manages now, can’t base everything on the interviews etc.

I expressed strong disagreement, saying it was undermining what is supposed to be a fair and transparent process, but was faced with the above. Very much - sorry you disagree, but this is what is going to happen. The third panel member is from our wider department and appeared relaxed about the chair having the final decision (“Well, it’s your call”).

On Monday I have a catch up with the head of our department. Do I voice any concerns or is it not worth the aggravation?

StephanieSuperpowers - 27 Mar 2021 13:50:36 (#2 of 70)

Was there a real, appreciable difference or was it marginal?

Dayraven - 27 Mar 2021 13:51:10 (#3 of 70)

Panic and offer the job to B or possibly D.

Shadrack22 - 27 Mar 2021 13:52:24 (#4 of 70)

A: 78/96

B: 72/96

C: 71/96

Shadrack22 - 27 Mar 2021 13:56:46 (#5 of 70)

I think the chair was surprised by the vehemence of my reaction and probably hasn’t seen anything like that from me during the four years we have worked in the same team. She is someone I have to work with, so i’m reluctant to make an enemy. However, the whole business, the nepotism, the ability of someone to bend the rules, turns my stomach.

champagnerocker - 27 Mar 2021 13:57:26 (#6 of 70)

I'd say its not worth the hassle.

If it were the case that there was some sort of actual aptitude test with clear right or wrong answers and one candidate scored more highly than the other it would be clearly wrong to offer the lower scored candidate the job (as well as leaving you potentially open to legal actions).

However, if we are just basing a scoring system on replies to interview questions which are much harder to score objectively for similar standard candidates, then don't worry about it too much.

If the boss knows both A&C and has worked with both A&C in the recent past then her prior knowledge and experience of them gained in the actual workplace over a number of months should count for just as much if not more than anything they spouted in front of an interview panel.

Shadrack22 - 27 Mar 2021 13:58:30 (#7 of 70)

Possibly. I want an easy life. She would be a bad enemy to have.

champagnerocker - 27 Mar 2021 14:00:17 (#8 of 70)

Of course if her prior knowledge of working with A&C boils down to she regularly goes drinking after work with C whereas A was just someone on she was on professional nodding terms with then it would apppear to be wrong.

Although the sort of wrong that goes on all the time and that you will only get headaches trying to challenge; which will almost inevitably be doomed to failure.

Shadrack22 - 27 Mar 2021 14:01:41 (#9 of 70)

if we are just basing a scoring system on replies to interview questions which are much harder to score objectively for similar standard candidates

Which is what the chair said - we can’t base it solely on an interview. To which I said, in which case the process is a waste of time if you’re just going to make the decision you were going to make all along.

Dayraven - 27 Mar 2021 14:01:47 (#10 of 70)

Yeah, those don’t seem like huge differences in an imperfect measure of aptitude.

the process is a waste of time if you’re just going to make the decision you were going to make all along.

There’s still (hopefully) room for a fantastic candidate to come through or for an exhibition of previously unknown weakness in the presumptive candidate, though.

elderberry - 27 Mar 2021 14:02:56 (#11 of 70)

If it was public sector here, candidates could request to see the scoring sheets. In that case, if A was litigious, it could all get troublesome. Was there a 'general impressions' box, or a 'previous experience' element that could square the circle?

As it is, it sounds like an old pals act appointment, and I wonder why there was an interview at all?

Shadrack22 - 27 Mar 2021 14:03:54 (#12 of 70)

This is university admin.

Crayola - 27 Mar 2021 14:05:28 (#13 of 70)

OTOH, knowing a person can reap massive rewards in terms of being able to do a job.

I've not had a job interview in years now. All my work is through knowing people. My job is not rocket science and the vast majority of candidates will be virtually the same (or a few points apart like yours). The thing that is different is our personalities and ways of working.

elderberry - 27 Mar 2021 14:11:08 (#14 of 70)

Once qualified, most people can probably do most jobs.

Interviews can be a way of ensuring open access to opportunity. I don't know what legal responsibilities Universities have in the UK, but I'd advise caution in ignoring the scoring sheets - if necessary hold a second interview and fine tune the questions (though check the legality of that too).

Crayola - 27 Mar 2021 14:15:04 (#15 of 70)

Interviews can be a way of ensuring open access to opportunity

I agree, but if people are pretty much scoring the same on the actual work side, surely the 'will they fit the team' bit is still subjective and a score, albeit a different kind of score. And if the chair has the decider, they have the decider.

FleurDuMal - 27 Mar 2021 14:18:53 (#16 of 70)

It sounds a bit iffy to me. I’ve been on those panels (and on the receiving end) and the assumption is that you go by the scores, regardless of personal preference.

elderberry - 27 Mar 2021 14:19:18 (#17 of 70)

I absolutely agree, but it all needs to be stated clearly. A friend had a bit of a horror show around a query about the outcome of an interview, and it's left me twitchy about the need to not leave scope for a legal challenge.

elderberry - 27 Mar 2021 14:21:14 (#18 of 70)

My #17 was to Cray, but I also agree with Fleur - the case as described in the OP does sound iffy - possibly because of the way the process was set up - don't know does that come back to the Chair as well.

Shadrack22 - 27 Mar 2021 14:23:55 (#19 of 70)

The chair is of the view that the scoring is for guidance only. I’ve not read the HR policy, so this may (or may not) be correct.

elderberry - 27 Mar 2021 14:28:13 (#20 of 70)

Read the HR policy, if only to make sure that you won't be implicated in any legal blowback. The Chair sounds a bit dodgy to me.

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